African-American Leadership Group Distributes Questionnaire to PA Gubernatorial Candidates

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Responses will be included in determining their support in the Primary Election

Each of the announced candidates campaigning to be their party’s nominee in the Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Primary Election on May 18, today received an issues-based questionnaire and a request for responses by April 19, from the Forum for a Better Pennsylvania (http://www.forum-betterpa.org), an African-American leadership group whose members are private-sector and not-for-profit executives and business owners from across the Commonwealth.

Included in the nine-point list of questions were issues such as a request for gubernatorial candidates’ support for comprehensive legislative packages (HB 2140-2149 and SB 1210-1218) which, among other things, would ensure that small businesses, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, across Pennsylvania would have fair access to contracts let by the Commonwealth.

The bills also would create a cabinet-level secretary for minority- and women-owned business development and facilitate timely payments to sub-contractors on state projects. In addition, the questionnaire seeks responses from each of the candidates on a recommendation to initiate an urban-focused job creation program across the Commonwealth; a commitment for continued support for the Commonwealth’s public and charter schools; a review of race-based inequities in sentencing in the Commonwealth’s court system; a state-originated re-entry program and a focus on preparing young Pennsylvanians for anticipated growth industry participation in education, health care and the sciences, among other things.

Among the candidates who received the Forum’s questionnaire were:

  •     Thomas Corbett (R), PA Attorney General
  •     Joseph Hoeffel (D), Former U.S. Congressman
  •     Daniel Onorato (D), Chief Executive, Allegheny County
  •     Samuel Rohrer (R), PA State Representative
  •     Jack Wagner (D), PA Auditor General, and
  •     Anthony Hardy Williams (D), PA State Senator

The Forum’s conveners believe that the southeast Pennsylvania vote, and, especially, its Philadelphia vote, wherein African Americans comprise more than 60 percent of Democratic Party registrants, will be critically important in determining the winner of the Primary and General Election.

According to the Forum, black Pennsylvanians represent 10.8 percent of the Commonwealth’s statewide population, or 1.3 million persons. Of those, 65 percent reside in the state’s five southeastern Pennsylvania counties, and that percentage jumps to nearly 77 percent when just seven other urban centers in Pennsylvania with double-digit black population counts (Harrisburg, Erie, Pittsburgh, Reading, Lancaster, Williamsport and York) are added.

Once the Forum’s members review the responses and the candidates’ commitment to have reasonable inclusion of the proposed issues in their overall platforms, the organization will have a clear sense of which candidates deserve to be supported by the state’s one million voting age African Americans and other voters who share their interest in issues. At that point, they say, they’ll do everything they can reasonably do to share that information with voters and to provide direct support, as warranted.

The Forum is an affiliation of politically engaged business, civic, professional and religious leaders from across Pennsylvania, who are committed to increasing the quality of social and economic participation by African Americans across the Commonwealth. The ultimate mission of the group is to improve key, economic, educational and social indicators for Pennsylvania, as a whole.

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Jennifer Chapple
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